The leader of a Jacksonville, Fla. church made its members aware Thursday that when one member of its congregation testified against a proposed human rights ordinance this week, he confessed to sexually abusing multiple children, then bragged that he has never been arrested.
The man, who identified himself as Roy Ban, attended the weekly service at the Evangel Temple, the church leading the opposition to the ordinance, with someone working as a security guard by his side, reported Jacksonville TV station WJAX.
Pastor Gary Wiggins told his congregation the church was unaware of Ban's history, saying the church does not do a background check on members or employees.
“We had no knowledge of his claims he made before the City Council until last night. In response to his [Bay] claims the church is taking appropriate actions to safeguard the families and children of our congregation,” he said. “We encourage and want the police to do a full investigation serving justice as appropriate.”
After Ban's declaration, local police and news media quickly looked into Ban's background and his ties to Evangel Temple. He left Tuesday's city council meeting in a church van and lives with his wife on church property, according to television station WJXT. Pastor Wiggins said Ban was employed there for several years as a maintenance man.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's office has said they are looking into the man's claims; there is no statute of limitations for sexually abusing a child in Florida. While court records show Ban has been arrested multiple times for driving violations, police have so far been unable to verify his claims.
Ban told the council as a child he was molested by "the homosexual community" in a public restroom, and claimed that the abuse led him to molest children in restrooms in St. Louis, Mo. for more than 20 years, because he thought it was "acceptable." Since anti-LGBT religious organizations routinely make claims connecting pedophilia and homosexuality, some in the Northeast Florida community are now questioning whether Ban's testimony is true, or if he was sent by the church to disrupt the meeting and place doubts in council members' minds.
“I'm going to say it's a real common tactic of those who oppose LGBT rights to link together people who are LGBT with sex crimes and pedophilia,” local resident Dan Merkan told WJXT. “It's a tactic they've tried for decades; it's unacceptable, it's vile, it's disgusting.”
Christopher Anderson, executive director of Male Survivor, issued this statement to WJAX:
"Mr. Bay’s statements that homosexual activity is a root cause of child sexual abuse are categorically wrong. Research is clear that a significant proportion of serial child molesters self identify as heterosexual. Many abusers hide their crimes behind veils of “normality” oftentimes getting married and having children to better deflect attention away from themselves and gain the trust of others. The stories of Jared Fogle and Jerry Sandusky are perfect examples of this behavior.
"Also, it is vital to stress that the vast majority of survivors of child sexual abuse never go on to perpetrate abuse themselves. A strong body of research backs demonstrates this, one of the most recent studies finding, “proportionally very few of these sexually abused boys (3 percent) went on to become sexual offenders; and, contrary to findings typically reported in retrospective clinical studies, proportionally few sexual offenders (4 percent) had a confirmed history of sexual abuse.” - Testing the sexually abused-sexual abuser hypothesis: A prospective longitudinal birth cohort study.
"Ensuring the civil rights of LGBTQ persons does not put children at greater risk for sexual abuse, and suggesting that survivors will become perpetrators only creates more shame and stigma for survivors and more roadblocks to healing."
Watch a report from WJAX below.